Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Topsy Turvy Irish Times Article Demeans Autism Parents, Promotes Reality Challenged Professor

Corrrection: This comment initially, and incorrectly, identified Professor Michael Fitzgerald as being the author of Defining Autism – a damaging delusion, instead of Dr. Mike Fitzpatrick. Thank you to Mike Stanton for the correction. This comment has now been corrected and modified accordingly.

It is Topsy Turvy Day in an Irish Times article Darwin is the origin of new thesis on Asperger's. In "Darwin" Dr. Muiris Houston promotes the latest effort by Professor Michael Fitzgerald to assign yet another historical genius, this time Charles Darwin, to his speculative list of persons with Aspergers. Dr. Houston glosses over entirely the fact that Professor Fitgerald's opinion is pure speculation, having never met Darwin who died before Asperger's was even defined as a medical condition. Nor does Dr. Houston mention Professor Fitzgerald's career of assigning many historical geniuses to his speculative Asperger's list. Parents once again are the villains in Dr. Houston's and Professor Fitzgerald's Topsy Turvy fantasy production.

Wikipedia, in People speculated to have been autistic, has a summary of Professor Fitgerald's career in historical genius autism speculation:

Michael Fitzgerald, of the Department of Child Psychiatry at Trinity College, Dublin, has speculated about historical figures with autism in numerous journal papers and at least three books: The Genesis of Artistic Creativity: Asperger's Syndrome and the Arts,[4] Unstoppable Brilliance: Irish Geniuses and Asperger's Syndrome[5] and Autism and Creativity, Is there a link between autism in men and exceptional ability?[6]

Fitzgerald speculated the following were autistic in The Genesis of Artistic Creativity:

Unstoppable Brilliance discusses Daisy Bates, Samuel Beckett, Robert Boyle, Eamon de Valera, Robert Emmet, William Rowan Hamilton, James Joyce, Padraig Pearse and W.B. Yeats.

Autism and Creativity says the following may have been autistic: Lewis Carroll, Eamon de Valera, Sir Keith Joseph, Ramanujan, Ludwig Wittgenstein and W.B. Yeats.

While Professor Fitzgerald visits history, and his imagination, to speculate about historical figures he never met, most of whom lived and died before autism and Asperger's were known to the world, parents in the real world today struggle with the real challenges of caring for, raising and preparing their autistic children for a future without them.

Dr. Houston, clearly enamored with Professor Fitzgerald's historical speculation, also shares Dr. Mike Fitzpatrick's demeaning characterization of parents facing autism reality who take a biomedical approach to their children's autism. He promotes Fitzpatrick's book Defining Autism – a damaging delusion:

“Parents who share the unorthodox biomedical outlook project a negative view of autism, as a destructive disease process which is sometimes described as ‘worse than cancer’.”

And he says that some parents implicitly dehumanise people with autism by describing “their own predicament in terms of grief and loss and as one of unremitting battle against the corrosive impact of autism on their child, their marital relationship and their wider family”.

Dr. Houston then goes on to point out that there is no scientific evidence, only anecdotal evidence, in support of biomedical treatments. And therein lies the rub. Dr. Houston and the Irish Times reject anecdotal evidence, direct observation by parents of their children, of real situations and people, as being unscientific. Yet, he embraces, without question, the historical speculation of Professor Fitzgerald that Darwin, and other historical geniuses, people that Professor Fitzgerald never met, most of whom died before autism or Aspergers were recognized conditions, had one of these disorders.

Parents who actually care for and raise their children, who can see the realities of their children's autism spectrum disorders, and who try to help them live the fullest life possible are increasingly under attack today. Medical authorities fiercely intent on protecting vaccine programs from ANY criticism or question dismiss as hysterical parents who see their children regress after receiving vaccines. Parents who provide ABA or biomedical treatments to help their children are accused of oppressing them by some neurodiversity advocates.

Professor Fitzgerald has built a career writing articles and books and making presentations to learned societies speculating about the possibility that people he has never met might have had either autism or Aspergers. Dr. Mike Fitzpatrick, himself the parent of an autistic child, has the incredible arrogance to to demean and dismiss parents who fight for their children, who struggle to care for them every day. He speculates, with no solid evidence, that parents efforts to help their own children has a corrosive impact on autistic people. Describing our children's realities as we see them every day is actually harmful? Meanwhile Professor Fitzgerald sits in the library imagining that Darwin had Aspergers. Dr. Muiris and the Irish Times embrace both of their evidence bare theories while dismissing the daily observations of parents from around around the world.

If you are the parent of a child recently diagnosed with an autism disorder welcome to the Topsy Turvy world of autism parenting. Parents know nothing and hurt their autistic children while purporting to help them. Professors who prowl the library speculating that historical figures were autistic are taken seriously while parents who observe and deal with their children's autism challenges every day know nothing. In the world of autism parenting every day is Topsy Turvy Day as described in Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame:

Once a year we throw a party here in town
Once a year we turn all Paris upside down
Ev'ry man's a king and ev'ry king's a clown
Once again it's Topsy Turvy Day
It's the day the devil in us gets released
It's the day we mock the prig and shock the priest
Ev'rything is topsy turvy at the Feast of Fools!

Topsy turvy!

Ev'rything is upsy daysy!

Topsy turvy!

Ev'ryone is acting crazy
Dross is gold and weeds are a bouquet
That's the way on Topsy Turvy Day

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Anonymous said...

Oh autism isn't treatable well if thats the case why are my twin boys losing their diagnosis.You'll be saying next that they never had it and that will make over 4 autism experts look very silly, cos they did have and and the behaviours. I have tried ABA, yiou name it we tried it and what has worked for us is treating it. I love my children and I excpt them for whatever they may be but what I don't except is the pain they were in , the vomitting over 3 times a day , the slepp and of course they didn't talk now they do. I wouold expect you to understand cos as yiou said we are indenial , don't think so. Disallusioned at how health is failing our kids yes disalusioned never.Oh and one more thing I think parents should be the ones who know don't you not professionals who lable our kids and pass them on never addressing anything medically. Oh and as for research there is lots just not funded by drug companies or the government so there for laughed at, you'll see when so may jkids will get better. We are working on some research on how bio med effects our kids and behaviour changes and also an assessment tool for bio med can't wait for you lot as you haven't got a clue.
A very happy parent after treating her twin boys autism as they are painfree , talking, and functioning in our world even though it really isn't a kind place

Anonymous said...

Treating autism conference 13th and 14th march shame you can't come you may learn .......

Unknown said...

Anonymous thank you for your comments.

Anonymous said...

I think there are different issues here. Biomedical interventions are unproven, and those which have been subjected to properly controlled studies have for the most part failed miserably, others having mixed results, but in the main have not shown to be effective.

Anecdotal accounts do not prove anything, but can determine areas to investigates. If one goes back through time one can find lots of remedies which seem utterly ridiculous now, but used because of anecdotal evidence.

Parents pursuing such treatments do so out of love for their children. They want to give their children the best possible chance of living a full life. It is not wrong to question the validity of ascribing advances made by children to biomedical efforts, but it is entirely wrong to question the motives and hearts of the parents who use them.

Autism has caused nothing but harm to my daughter. It has given her no skills, special or otherwise. She is a delightful child with a horrendous disability and if it were possible to rid her of it, she would only benefit.

Like most parents of low-functioning children I don't see her as inferior in any way. She is precious, and I love her with all my heart, mind, soul and strength. However that does not mean that her autism should be seen as "good" in any way.

The historic figures, and those on who are ASD or claim to be so in the ND movement have lives and capabilities completely foreign to my daughter.

Postmortem diagnoses are ridiculous. They are harmful of they slow in any way the pursuit of a cure or better methods to mitigate the effects of autism.

vanwolf said...

When we started on the biomed path for our son, I told my husband, "there was a time everyone thought the world was flat, it didn't make it true simply because no one had proven otherwise yet"
I liked your post and the relation between, speculative parents and speculative professors.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post. So true that parents with children with autism get told this or that hasn't been
"proven scientifically", so therefore, it does not work. Our kids are our science. We see them everyday, and we know what we are putting in their bodies, what their lab work says, and we love them the same no matter where they are at. I feel like sometimes I get criticized for allowing my son to heal. Very ironic, but at the same time, the jokes on "them" (those who believe the studies with error that they hear). Time will show. It should have already, but it will. ABA and biomed are healing our children.

Anonymous said...

Professor Fitzgerald did not write Defeating Autism - a damaging delusion. That was Dr Fitzpatrick. While I am not persuaded by Professor Fitzgerald's speculations about long dead celebrities I do find Dr Fizpatrick's book to be a clear exposition of mainstream scientific and medical criticisms of alternative theories and therapies for autism.

Unknown said...

Mr Stanton

Thank you for the correction.

Anonymous said...

This just baffles me to no end, this attitude that because I am treating my daughter for her MEDICAL, yes, I said MEDICAL issues, that means I somehow see her as "less of a person" or I'm demeaning her. Give me a break.

My daughter had a horrendous yeast infection for YEARS. She would drag her private parts on the carpet; they were always inflamed and red. She DUG at her anus and vagina until they bled sometimes because she itched so bad.

I took her to a regular family practice doctor who told me all that yeast and autism stuff was bogus and that I needed to learn to accept autism and see a therapist.

I took her to one of those so-called "quack DAN! doctors". She did an OAT test for yeast, prescribed antifungals, and within three days the red ring that had been around my daughter's bottom for years was gone. Her private parts were finally the same color as the rest of her body. The most amazing change was the raccoon circles under her eyes that she had had for YEARS faded dramatically. You can see it in photographs. She began sleeping through the night. She also stayed dry and night and I think is FINALLY going to potty-train by the end of this year if I work with her enough (she couldn't hold her bladder for very long with the yeast infection; it hurt her).

Why, oh WHY is this "trying to change who she is"? My goodness, I bet she wonders what took me so long to help her feel better.

It just baffles me to no end. I'll bet if I had her on five different psychiatric drugs and she was a six-year-old zombie the medical community would hail me as a good mother. But because I use B-vitamins and probiotics and antifungals and they are doing the same thing that psych meds would do, I am one of those tin-foil hat-wearing mothers who needs to just "learn to love and accept her daughter".

To continue to "just accept" that yeast infection she had that her regular doctor refused to acknowledge would have been child abuse. She WAS suffering. Period.

Anonymous said...

I read that book.... I believe I gave it ONE star over on my Goodreads page and that was being kind.

I just finished Temple Grandin's "The way I see it", which is pretty much her presentation (you should go if you haven't already been to a presentation by her) and the articles she has written. Guess who does BioMed stuff... she does. We've only done gluten and casien with the eldest and casien was our problem. Casien didn't help the younger but he doesn't have the elders "extras", like diahhrea, nightmares/terrors, mood swings etc... so I'm not surprised.

I notice Dr Grandin's never mentioned by the ASD neurodiverse community... I wonder why.... (yes, that was completely sarcastic).

Also, I'm glad your son enjoys his ABA sessions and they help... mine just hated them.